Oracle users wary of new apps

Computerworld |  Software

Although Oracle Corp. is pointing to an increasing number of installations of
the E-Business Suite 11i applications it shipped last year, users and analysts
said many companies are still waiting for the technology to become more mature
before upgrading from earlier versions of the software.

Certainly, many of Oracle's users are eager to move up to the 11i software,
which promises a fully integrated suite of enterprise resource planning (ERP)
and customer relationship management (CRM) applications. But at the Oracle AppsWorld
conference here this week, some attendees cited continued concerns about technical
glitches in the software and the amount of internal business process changes
that would accompany an upgrade.

"My sense in talking to various users is that they want to [upgrade to
11i] as soon as they can, but with caution," said Rocky Bertz, a project
manager at Denver-based CH2M Hill Inc. and treasurer of the independent Oracle
Applications Users Group. Bertz said his own company, which provides manufacturing
and technology project management services, doesn't plan to go live with 11i
until next year.

Oracle executives said at AppsWorld that the latest versions of the 11i software
are stable and that implementing the new suite is getting easier. An updated
11i release became available last week, said Mark Jarvis, chief marketing officer
at Oracle. And for users who don't need to customize the applications, upgrading
is relatively simple, he added.

Since 11i was released eight months ago, 180 users have gone live with the
software, Oracle said. Companies that are up and running with the application
include Barclays Bank PLC, Compaq Computer Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems, according
to Oracle, which said a total of 2,500 implementations are under way.

Agilera Inc., an application service provider in Englewood, Colo., said 11i
has presented no special difficulties during its conversion to the software
from homegrown systems. The company is doing a phased implementation that started
last October, said John Czapko, director of global alliances at Agilera.

"We got our core financial module up in less than 30 days under budget,"
Czapko said. "There were some minor headaches, but nothing beyond belief.
Oracle offered outstanding support." He added that the company is trying
to keep its 11i system as close to vanilla as possible to avoid any customization
work.

But other users said they're still taking a cautious approach. "Unfortunately,
the early releases of the 11i software indeed had too many [technical] issues
that are still being resolved," said Joel Flemming, global program leader
at Honeywell Sensing and Control in Freeport, Ill.

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